Understanding online right to work checks

Posted on: February 6th, 2019

Various changes have been made to the Home Office’s Code of Practice on Preventing Illegal Working. The changes, which took effect on the 28th January, modernise the “right to work” checks which employers must carry out to ensure they are not employing illegal workers in the UK.

Following changes made last year, employers can now conduct a right to work check online using the Home Office Online Right to Work Checking Service. The online system is, however, optional and if employers would prefer to continue viewing and copying original documents instead, they may do so.

At the current time, the online service can only be used in relation to right to work checks for the following individuals: non-EEA nationals holding biometric residence permits or cards, and EEA nationals with settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. Other individuals must continue to prove their right to work by showing original documents.

Use of the online system will start with the prospective employee accessing their own immigration record and then inviting the employer to view the record. Once the employer receives the online invitation notification they must conduct the following checks:

  1. confirm that the employee is permitted to work in the UK and may perform the work in question;
  2. ensure the photograph on the online right to work webpage is of the employee; and
  3. take a copy of the online check and retain this throughout the employment period and for 2 years after the employment has ended.

Importantly for employers, by conducting a right to work check using the Online Service, a statutory excuse against liability for an illegal working civil penalty will be established.

If you have any questions on carrying out right to work checks, please do not hesitate to contact Amanda Glover or a member of our Employment Team here.